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Nutritionist Careers in the UK
In the UK there are government guidelines on nutrition which are a bid to improve the health of the nation. Partly because of this agenda there are opportunities to work as a nutritionist in the NHS - National Health Service and with local authorities, as well as working within industry or privately.
It is worth noting the difference between a dietitian, a nutritionist and a nutritional therapist:
Dietitians - are very often employed by the NHS and work with individual patients to improve or manage their diet where there is a clinical need, such as diabetes or clinical obesity. Dietitians will have an approved degree or postgraduate qualification in dietetics.
Nutritionists - within the NHS, nutritionists only work directly with patients under supervision and are more likely to be working on projects to make healthy eating accessible in schools or within the wider community. They also carry out research for the food industry. A registered nutritionist will have an approved degree or postgraduate qualification, usually in nutrition or at least seven years professional experience.
Nutritional therapists come under the alternative therapies umbrella and as a result it is a less regulated area. They will not be employed by the NHS. They are often self employed, and will work with clients on a one to one basis to improve their health through nurtition.
What Do Nutritionists Do?
Nutritionists understand about how humans or animals get nutrients for food and what humans or animals should eat for optimal health and nutrition.
It is often the job of the nutritionist to make sense of complicated nutritional facts and convey them to members of the public in layman's terms.
Nutritionists may be involved in projects motivating people to lose weight or eat more vegetables for example, or they may specialise in sport or animal nutrition or work in industry helping companies make informed decisions about which products to develop. They may be involved in setting up food trials and recruiting volunteers to participate in food trials then analysing and reporting back the results.
A Nutritionist Talks about her Work
- Nicola Evans – icould
Need inspiration for your career? icould includes 1000 films of personal career stories, across all occupations. This clip shows a nutritionist discussing her work and her route into the profession.
Working as a Nutritionist in the NHS
Because of government healthy eating initiatives, in the past 10 years there has been greater growth in the number of jobs for nutritionists in the NHS than in any other sector within the NHS.( nhscareers.nhs.uk 2012) To work as an NHS nutritionist or with in a local authority scheme, you must be registered with the Association for Nutrition. You may be employed as a community or public health nutritionist, a Sure Start or Early Start nutritionist, a food for health adviser or a dietetic assistant.
With experience and usually with additional qualifications you can become a project coordinator, leader or manager within the NHS
Working as a Nutritionist within Industry
The majority of large food retail chains or food and beverage manufacturers, including pet food manufacturers, will employ nutritionists. These will be involved in product research and development; including providing nutritional information, carrying out research to gain approval for specific health claims of a product or highlighting consumer trends which could inform what products are developed and how they are marketed.
They may also be a point of contact for the public answering queries about products and providing written information on the products and could be asked to interpret new food related legislation and ensure that the company complies with it.
Where Else Might a Nutritionist Work?
Self Employment - some nutritionists are self employed acting either as consultants to companies or helping individuals with nutritional concerns, perhaps working alongside a personal trainer.
Charities - some nutritionists are employed by charities where nutrition is a key aspect of the charities cause for example charities working to reduce the incidence of diabetes or heart disease.
Teaching or Lecturing - nutritionists may teach or lecture in schools, colleges or universities. To teach in a school or college you would have to complete a PGCE (post graduate certificate of education) either before starting to teach or during your first year or two years of teaching. Lecturers at university level are likely to be involved in research to expand our knowledge of nutrition.
Sports Nutritionists - These may work with amateur or professional sports people for example the British Olympic Association employs nutritionists to help improve the performance of athletes.